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Right-brain? All-brain – Drawing on the whole body itself (6/23/22)

Updated: Jun 26, 2022

Finding the words to finalize part 3 of a multi-post blog (“Touch, Thrum, Sweat”) I began in January?

It’s been a challenge. I am not giving up! But I am struggling with the language and sheer embodied focus of it, when a body has so much to say, and say without words.

I imagine my “left brain’s” verbal knack needs a break, somehow. Not that a right brain’s visual knack has any higher wisdom, nor that any person is a “left- or right-brain” individual. It’s so complex, and we’re all using them both all the time. Even if our corpus callosum has been severed; each ‘side’ still functions.

Maybe my word-ly side is just dang tired. Who can hold in a single brain all the images of bombed-bridges and mass-shootings and weather-related disasters? Who can find words for how that feels? The feels are not so keen on language.

For a class I took last spring, I remember reading how:

[Korean / Asian medicine] treats the brain as an extraordinary visceral system attached to the kidneys and attributes consciousness to the heart.

Alternative Medicine's Encounter with Laboratory Science: The Scientific Construction

of Korean Medicine in a Global Age

Author(s): Jongyoung Kim

Source: Social Studies of Science , Dec., 2007, Vol. 37, No. 6 (Dec., 2007), pp. 855-880

The brain as a visceral system? Consciousness, within the heart?

Sure. I tip my gut and heart to Korean wisdom.

Both concepts/locales made sense to me. Those key, gut-based moments in my life have all been ‘brainier’ than my thoughts or rationales – they just were, well, true. They are still true. And they’ve never let me down, the gut and heart. Something really really important is happening, my body tells me, barely connecting words to that something.

Move! Go. Act. Trust. This is important.

So I’ve been thinking about the label of my being a “right-brained” person by former bosses, professors, even some good friends. What they indicated by that? Artsy, enacting, deeply creative, I think.

And not? Analytical, logical.

People like labels. I am also a freakin’ planner, by the brain I became embodied with.

And scientific evidence proves none of us are “one side of the brain or the other.” It’s an ongoing conversation. With and without language. Thank goodness.

And I’ve been missing the practice, the meditative practice of drawing, sketching, maybe adding some color later.

My whole life, I’ve been challenged to “carve space” for my artsy self. My whole life, I’ve heard the message, in repetitive and cautionary percussion, ‘there’s no surviving, in a life in the arts.’ How will you ever take care of yourself?

(Without external support, that is. Without a spouse who brings reliable and benefits-yielding income into the same roof-based life. Or without generational wealth of some degree to offer reliable and benefits-yielding backup, to such a relationship. Even the likes of life-insurance, as beneficiaries, as an example.)

Yet. Without those, or those kinds of prospects?

Still and nevertheless. Interacting with a specific instance of nature, or an animal/man-based creation (like architecture) in a purely non-verbal way? Is something I’ve always felt compelled to do.

You just can’t. Well I can’t, for example, talk to anyone when I’m sketching.

I would have to stop drawing (sigh) then forward my energy across that corpus-callosum to interact with someone, via speech. Interacting, while sketching, is, for me, so, um, annoying!

(I was 39, when I took a workshop at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA with the amazing artist Susan Abbott, who verbalized this challenge. “I don’t want to go on a sketching walk with my husband, or one of my kids! I have to do this alone, so I don’t have to talk to anyone!” Susan, in Vermont these days? I will always love you for that 1 minute of my word-listening life.)

When I was 6 years old, and my family lived in Cambridge, Mass., I felt compelled to sit across the street from our half-a-former-funeral-home-but-not-the-grand-mansion-kind-of-funereal house, and draw it.

How to explain? I felt a relationship with our half-a-house’s angles, its mysteries, its own self-hood.

It demanded, okay? That I sketch it. With a basic No. 2 pencil and any scrap paper I scrounged, while I sat on the concrete sidewalk.

And wouldn’t you know? As my mother had described him, more than once? A “real artist,” one of our neighbors I didn’t know, as a 6-year-old, but whose presence loomed large, he found me there, sketching, one day.

This Real Artist observed my work and inter-effin-rupted me! With words!

I could barely maintain my respect for him as a brained human.

He commented, with an accent, that I believe then and now was what my mother called “Italian”: “You see this house, yes. You do. And, do you see, how, hm,” he pointed, almost touching, a certain area of my drawing, “how this line does not quite correspond with the roof and garret, there?”

I set down my No. 2 pencil on the sidewalk. I remember thinking, impossibly maturely on my part: ‘Well, duh.’ Then I said out loud, “I know. But that’s how I like it.”

My gut and heart liked it like that.

From my tone, the Real Artist understood I would not back down from my own vision in the face of real data, analysis, and Euclidean geometry.

I can only imagine, now, decades later, that he heard me, as I tried to verbalize, from my state-of-right-brained mind.

I would give anything to see that sketch, as I wheel through life as a $12 member of AARP, who has not found time to draw, sketch, color, for so too long.

I would give anything to see my “1st-prize” artwork that same year from the Archdiocese of Boston, specifically of shepherds and their many sweet sheep I drew, at night and in anticipation of a Savior’s birth, with moon-shadows reaching, against all analytical proof, in all directions.

I would give anything to see my adolescent and teenaged artwork, especially that considered a “portfolio” by my 9th-grade Art Teacher who wanted to submit my work to the Corcoran’s high-school dedicated to visual art students (about which I declined, after pretending I’d discussed it all with my parents, who weren’t the kind of parents I could discuss it all with, but THANK YOU forever, Mrs. DeBaylo). Then give anything for my college art-class work, all lost to my mother’s move from our townhouse to her down-sized condo; I had no room for my big, portfolio carry in my tiny studio in downtown DC.

I would give anything to see photos I took with my ancient Kodak “pocket-camera” in the ‘80s, film cartridges stolen along with the coat whose pocket held them on a train from Valencia to Madrid, Spain, while my Australian boyfriend slept mere inches away, while I dashed to the train car’s WC, even after I shook him and said, “we’re coming into Madrid – I’m just gonna go pee,” and he grunted with assent. Whole persons I met, like a boy named Stafford, lost in visual form, with that one cartridge. I didn’t care about the coat!

I would give anything to see pics of any artwork I made over any years of life, let-go or lost or stolen or forgotten. They are, misguided or not, evidence of my right-brained leanings.

So, a blog-post here with a sampling of what remains not-lost. A handful of sketches that might boost my gut and heart into more of what matters, what remains, what I care about, how I feel, rather than think. I am overdue for the Korean of it all.

THANKS for taking this brain-venture with me. Somehow, sharing it, in words and pictures, might kick my ass into my right-side habits.


Comes now more visual, right-brain, artsy-muff stuff:

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